As I watched WWE WrestleMania 26 this past Sunday night I couldn’t really come to grasp at the time that it would be the last time that I watched Shawn Michaels wrestle. Maybe it was due to the fact that most wrestling fans including myself figured that HBK would lose at WM26 to The Undertaker and end up retiring. It was well known that Shawn Michaels days in the wrestling ring were coming to an end and that the spotlight on the showstopper himself would turn off in Glendale, Arizona for the last time.
When I turned on Monday Night Raw this past Monday I could not help be happy that the WWE was going to give the sendoff Shawn Michaels deserved by allowing him to come into the (naturally) main event segment and say farewell to the wrestling fans. As I watched the highlights of Shawn Michaels’ career unfold in every package prior to commercial break I could not help but begin to think the same thing that Shawn Michaels would echo during his speech this past Monday Night. That for the last near twenty years of my life Shawn Michaels was part of my life as a wrestling fan.
[adinserter block=”1″]That’s when Shawn Michaels retirement finally begun to sink in. I’m in my mid-20s and have been watching wrestling since I could remember. My generation of wrestling fans grew up with things such as the end of Hulkamania’s run in the then WWF, the “new generation”, WWE Superstars on Saturday mornings on the Fox 5 affiliate in the New York area and the start of Monday Night Raw. Those were cherished memories of my youth as a wrestling fan and many of those memories contained “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels.
Many wrestlers from the era have come and gone, including my favorite wrestler from that era in Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Bret Hart never had a sendoff from the WWE and hence I never really got that feeling that Bret’s days in wrestling were gone, he kind of faded away for a time period only to thankfully return to write a good ending to his wrestling career. During the attitude era it was The Rock and similar to that of Bret Hart, he too never got a formal “farewell” to the wrestling fans and faded away into a movie star.
The time period that I grew up in as a wrestling fan was defined by the two remaining wrestlers on the WWE roster that was on the first Monday Night Raw back in January of 1993. Ironically and poetically it was the two wrestlers that were in the main event of WrestleMania 26. Of course I’m speaking of The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels.
Despite Bret’s return to the WWE, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels were the last two keys left in my youth as a wrestling fan. I have watched them grow as I have grown over the years. Whether it is every Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Thursday or Friday, they were constantly in my life and entertaining me every time they pass through the curtain and into the ring.
Now it was time say farewell to the man, the showstopper, the main event, the icon, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. In what will go down as one of the greatest WrestleMania & Monday Night Raw moments of all-time in WWE history we got to see, feel and hear Shawn Michaels say goodbye to the wrestling fans as a in-ring performer. We got to hear him openly discuss his career, the obstacles he endured and what everything he did in the wrestling ring meant to him.
As I look back at the career of Shawn Michaels you can not help to feel that this man was a success story. There was a dark period of time in his life, where he was away from the wrestling fans, out of the spotlight that seemed to follow him for most his life and I remember during 1998-2002 that I would “pop” every second Shawn Michaels returning to the WWE. While he never wrestled during that time and we as fans didn’t know what was going behind the scenes it was great to see that “boy hood smile” appear on our televisions.
The return of Shawn Michaels in 2002 was something all wrestling fans waited for. I felt that this return (and I’m sure Shawn did too as well) was going to be short lived. That we were going to see Shawn Michaels go out on his terms and the way he should have gone out all along. Nearly eight years later and we finally say farewell to the “icon.”
The final run in Shawn Michaels’ career really defined the new chapter and life he embraced in his personal life. He came back to the WWE as a family man, a husband and a father. He found god and embraced a lifestyle completely 360 degrees different then his lifestyle during his first run in the ring. But one thing remained the same, his knack for the spotlight, his ability to wrestle at an all-time high all the time and being what he said he always was…”the Showstopper.”
Prior to leaving the WWE this past Sunday he even buried the hatchet with Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Their relationship was of much built up frustration and dislike between the two. It was amazing to see the two put everything in their past aside, embrace a new relationship as friends and co-workers. I was even happier to see Bret Hart put over HBK on this past Monday’s Raw and vice versa. You could the emotion from both was heartfelt and it was what they truly felt about one another.
[adinserter block=”2″]Shawn Michaels has left us with countless classic matches, some that rank in my Top 10 favorite matches off all-time. Quite frankly when you think of it, whether he won or loss, most of my favorite matches of all-time include Shawn Michaels. He truly was the greatest in-ring performer of all-time.
The emotion on this past Monday Night when Shawn bid farewell was one of the most emotional moments in wrestling history. As I said before I could not help but realize as he spoke the words himself, that he was part of my life for the last twenty years. He was there on the television week after week, or on VHS or on DVD, he was there. This was his farewell to us and our farewell to him.
As a wrestling fan & a fan of Shawn Michaels I can not help but wish nothing but the best to him, to his family and to his future in his time away from the ring. If I ever get the opportunity to sit down or greet Shawn Michaels face to face I will simply say the same words that the fans in Arizona spoke at WrestleMania & Raw this past week. That is quite simply “Thank you Shawn.”
Shawn Michaels, in my opinion the greatest wrestler of all-time has bid us farewell from active competition. He will be missed but his legacy will live on forever. Whether you loved him, or you hated, you will never ever forget him. As Shawn Michaels simply put this past Monday Night, it started the same way it ended…
“Shawn Michaels has left the building.”
Farewell HBK, we will miss you.
We want you to share your favorite Shawn Michaels’ moments and matches with us as we pay tribute to “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels for this week’s edition of “The Still Real to Us Show.” Then find out of your favorite HBK moments and/or matches made the air by downloading this week’s edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” around 3pm ET on Saturday April 3rd over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!
Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site. There you can also download many different shows including “The Wheelhouse”, “24 on 24” and “Lost: Smoke Monsters and You.”
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